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About

“I don't know; but I think fiction begins in dream and myth, and all its oldest forms are fantasies." --Ursula K. Le Guin

The Language of the Fantastic is a biennial literary festival, held on the Western Slope of Colorado. This short video is excerpted from our first festival, in 2011 with Colorado Poet Laureate Dave Mason. This year the festival is scheduled for October 11-13'th. It's the only such festival in this high desert, fairly isolated half of Colorado, and offers workshops, panels, and a community banquet and breakfast with acclaimed writers from North and South America. 

The festival creates community and also provides much inspiration, mentoring and joy to our local writers and readers. Profits from this festival will benefit Writers in the the Schools (WITS), a program where published writers teach and mentor students. The poverty rate for children in this region is almost twice the national one, and less than half our K-12 students are even proficient in writing. Our writers work hard, teaching almost about 1,000 students in our Writers in the Schools (WITS) program over the last two years, as well as writing workshops for veterans, the homeless, incarcerated teens, and women in shelters.

4th grader Emerson Wilson on Main St. with a WITS poem she wrote.
4th grader Emerson Wilson on Main St. with a WITS poem she wrote.

 Funds from this Kickstarter campaign will help reimburse visiting authors for travel expenses and will also reimburse a portion of the teaching fees. We've spent over a year organizing and fundraising for "The Language of the Fantastic," and now need just a little more support to push it over the top and make it happen.

This year we are offering:

A photo from Melissa Pritchard's presentation on Afghanistan, to be given at this festival.
A photo from Melissa Pritchard's presentation on Afghanistan, to be given at this festival.

Eleven more authors will join us this year! See festival details, and author photos and bios, at ....http://www.westerncoloradowriters.org/registration-for-the-language/

These covers are from the Writers in the Schools (WITS) anthologies being offered as pledge rewards.

KKCO11 News: Students Recite Poetry at Art in the Park Event
KKCO11 News: Students Recite Poetry at Art in the Park Event

The Swans

The swans in the pond

lift one feather

heads together, trying not to look.

Love, they say, love.

A strong word.

I'm trying not to say the word.

I put my head on yours.

Looking through your eyes

reminds me of sadness,

but love is the word.

Looking at you reminds me of love,

heart thumping love.

I think of you as a red gleaming rose,

a clear white feather falling down from the sky. 

- Harmony Horzema, 4th Grade WITS

WITS teacher Patrick Metoyer at Mesa View Elementary
WITS teacher Patrick Metoyer at Mesa View Elementary

I Come from My Soul

I come from Wisconsin

filled with smelly cheese and friendly faces.

I come from New York filled

with impetuous people and Broadway plays.

I come from pink tights and worn ballet shoes

as I soar across the sky like a butterfly

with soft, elegant wings, spotlight blinding my blue eyes.

I come from encephalitis, a disease that was terrible

but made me who I am today.

I come from sitting on the front porch

with my mom and dad who no longer

love each other.

I come from Polish ancestors

and a family of clothing designers.

I come from love.

I come from dreams.

I come from my soul.

- Avery Beach Grethel, 5th Grade WITS

These are covers for some of the books we are offering as $100 pledge rewards. Some of these books have already been offered, while the rest are going to be made available as our Kickstarter project progresses.

  

Location

All Friday & Saturday workshops and panels, book fair and Sat. night banquet will be held on the second floor, University Center, Colorado Mesa University. The Friday night reading and Sunday breakfast will be held downtown in G.J. at 800 Colorado.

Contact

If you have questions or comments you can contact us through kickstarter, our email, writersforum@bresnan.net, and telephone (970) 256-4662.

Our mission is to foster a dynamic literary and writing community that advances the cultural life of Western Colorado.

Western Colorado Writers' Forum
Western Colorado Writers' Forum

Risks and challenges

Even with a successful fundraiser we have to compensate for problems that arise with the travel plans for our authors. Everything from flight delays to family emergencies can affect our schedule. We try to plan well enough that our workshops and panels can go on even if delays and changes occur.

One of our biggest challenges with Writers in the Schools (WITS), and Voices of the Grand Valley (Voices) programs, both funded by the profits from the literary festival, is enough funds to send writers consistently to schools and agencies that need and request them. We partner with Colorado Humanities for WITS funding, and this year over $60,000 of National Endowment for the Arts funding was lost, due in part to the sequester.

Consequently, this school year our local districts need to foot more of the bill. We are looking at a less than half the residencies this year in the schools if we can't offset that with other funds. We'll continue the program to the best of our ability, but the funds from the literary festival are vital to maintaining the kind of success we've had -- the largest and most successful WITS program in history both in Colorado and on the Western Slope, and Voices workshops for the first time in this region. The funds for this Kickstarter project will shore up the last dollars needed to keep these programs going.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Pledge $10 and we will email you a copy of "Holey Schmoley! ¡Hijole!" in PDF format. This is a 128 page WITS poetry anthology created by the students of Dual Immersion Academy. This anthology is special within our collection for currently being the only bilingual anthology, with some poems written entirely in English, some in Spanish, and some in a mixture of the two.

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    Pledge $20 or more About $20

    Pledge $20 and we will email you a copy of "Holey Schmoley! ¡Hijole!" and "True Beauty" in PDF format. "True Beauty" is a beautiful 100 page WITS anthology of poetry, illustration, sculpture and photographs created by the students of Grand Junction High School.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Pledge $50 and we will send you an ebook copy of "Why I'm Actually Not a Bag Lady and Other Stories of Living: A Memoir with a Splash of Self Help" by Rebecca Mullen. Of the book, Mullen says "I look at how we identify our things– our altared spaces – and how that frames what we think about ourselves as we walk through our daily routines." Rebecca Mullen is a certified life coach. She was trained by Harvard educated and best selling author Martha Beck, whose name some may recognize from her monthly column in O Magazine. Mullen says, "I believe it is the smallest details of our lives that help us understand our
    souls. When we pay attention and notice those details without judgment our greatest potential has room to expand. These details are the cairns along our life’s path, showing us the way to our truest self. Our lives keep getting cluttered until we tend to the details." Mullen previously helped teach one of the Invisible Voices classes with prizewinning poet Wendy Videlock. She will also be doing a reading at the literary festival.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    Pledge $30 and we will email you copies of "Holey Schmoley!", "True Beauty", and "Painting Through Walls" in PDF format. "Painting Through Walls" is a WITS anthology of poetry and flash fiction created by the students of Scenic Elementary.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    Pledge $40 and we will email you copies of "Holey Schmoley!", "True Beauty", "Painting Through Walls", and "Slowly, With My Hand Out" in PDF format. "Slowly, With My Hand Out" is a WITS anthology of poetry and flash fiction created by the students of Tope Elementary.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Pledge $50 and we will mail you a signed copy of "Part of the Darkness" by poet David J. Rothman. Personalization is also available upon request. David J. Rothman is Director of the Poetry Concentration in the MFA at Western State Colorado University, and also teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Denver University, and Lighthouse Writers Workshop of Denver. He is the author of three previous volumes of poetry, "Dominion of Shadow", "The Elephant’s Chiropractor" (a Finalist for the Colorado Book Award), and "Beauty at Night". He is the editor of "The Geography of Hope: Poets of Colorado’s Western Slope". His essays on many subjects have appeared widely. He was co-founder and the first Executive Director of the Crested Butte Music Festival, and has served as director of a number of other arts and educational organizations. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two sons.

    Rothman will be at the Language of the Fantastic literary festival.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy of "The Book of Catapults" by poet David J. Rothman. Personalization is also available upon request. David J. Rothman is Director of the Poetry Concentration in the MFA at Western State Colorado University, and also teaches at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Denver University, and Lighthouse Writers Workshop of Denver. He is the author of three previous volumes of poetry, "Dominion of Shadow", "The Elephant’s Chiropractor" (a Finalist for the Colorado Book Award), and "Beauty at Night". He is the editor of "The Geography of Hope: Poets of Colorado’s Western Slope". His essays on many subjects have appeared widely. He was co-founder and the first Executive Director of the Crested Butte Music Festival, and has served as director of a number of other arts and educational organizations. He lives in Boulder, Colorado, with his wife and two sons.

    Rothman will be at the Language of the Fantastic literary festival.

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    Pledge $50 and receive a signed hardback copy of "Why I Came West", one of Rick Bass' most well-known and beloved memoirs. Personalization is also available upon request.

    "Why I Came West" was a National Book Critics Circle Finalist.

    In this poignant look at the thirty-year journey of one of our country’s great naturalist writers, Rick Bass describes how he fell in love with the mystique of the West--as a dramatic landscape, as an idea, and as a way of life. Bass grew up in the suburban sprawl of Houston, and after attending college in Utah he spent eight years working in Mississippi as a geologist, until one day he packed up and went in search of something visceral, true, and real. He found it in the remote Yaak Valley of northwestern Montana, where despite extensive logging not a single species has gone extinct since the last Ice Age.
    Bass has lived in “the Yaak” ever since, and in Why I Came West he chronicles his transformation into the writer, hunter, and environmental activist that he is today. He explains how the rugged, wild landscape smoothed out his own rough edges; attempts to define the appeal of the West that so transfixed him as a boy, a place of mountains and outlaws and continual rebirth; and tells of his own role as a reluctant activist—sometimes at odds with his own neighbors—unwilling to stand idly by and watch this treasured place disappear.

    Rick Bass will be at the Language of the Fantastic literary festival.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy of "Desert Water" by Sandra Dorr. "Desert Water" is a collection of poems that speak metaphorically and viscerally of the sage-scented canyon country. Personalization is also available upon request.

    Sandra Dorr’s work won The Writer/Rosebud’s New Discovery Prize, and poetry awards from the Colorado Poetry Society, Salt Hill and the New Delta Review.

    Sandra Dorr is not only one of the authors who will be at the literary festival, but is also the director of the Western Colorado Writers Forum

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    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy of "Amor Fati: New and Selected Poems" by Jack Mueller. Personalization is also available upon request. North Beach legend Jack Mueller, a well known poet among poets, was born in 1942, and raised in Philadelphia and Louisville. He has published 5 books of poetry and 2 books of drawings, including his most recent, "Whacking the Punch Line", from Lithic Press.

    Jack Mueller will be at the Language of the Fantastic literary festival.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Pledge $50 and receive a signed hardback copy (personalization available upon request) of "Disappearing Ingenue: The Misadventures of Eleanor Stoddard" by Melissa Pritchard. As the inside flap explains, "The ups and downs and turnarounds of a good girl who can’t help being bad no matter how hard she tries come hilariously to life in these disarming, utterly distinctive interrelated stories. Eleanor Stoddard tries to lead an exemplary life, to pursue the high road, and better herself and the world, but somehow things keep going awry. In “Port de Bras,” even as Eleanor spends her summer reading about the Holocaust, her good intentions are disrupted by the discovery that her first best friend is a compulsive liar who has cried wolf too many times. “Salve Regina” wryly captures another ill-fated step on Eleanor’s journey toward goodness. When, much to her mother’s dismay, she dreams of becoming a nun and dutifully says her rosary in the bathroom at her first cotillion, Eleanor finds that she still can’t save a friend from the consequences of her first seduction. Her marriage brings no relief from the twists of fate–and her quirky attempts to deal with them: In “The Case of the Disappearing Ingenue,” Eleanor turns to Nancy Drew for help when she suspects that her husband may be cheating on her. In the Pushcart Prize—winning “Funktionslust,” the final story in this collection, Eleanor does get her childhood wish. . . but not exactly in the way she imagined. Traveling through Central America with a rescued laboratory gorilla, “Like a rogue saint, Eleanor Stoddard was sighted here and there, most often by the innocent.” Disappearing Ingenue presents a heroine whose adventures with life and love are wildly imaginative. " Melissa Pritchard is an award-winning short story writer, novelist, essayist and journalist. The author of seven books of fiction and one biography, she has received numerous awards, including the Flannery O'Connor Award, the Carl Sandburg Award,and the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize. Her fiction has been frequently anthologized and cited in The Pushcart Prize, Prize Stories: The O.Henry Award, Best American Short Stories and numerous other anthologies. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Howard Foundation Fellowship at Brown University, the Hawthornden Foundation, Midlothian Scotland, the Bogliasco Foundation, Liguria, Italy and the Ledig-Rowohlt Foundation, Switzerland. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in journals and magazines such as The Wilson Quarterly, O, The Oprah Magazine, the Nation, The New York Times,Chicago Tribune,The Paris Review, Conjunctions, Ecotone, A Public Space, Agni, The Southern Review and The Gettysburg Review. Two of her books have been New York Times Notable Books, one was selected as a Chicago Tribune Best Books, another as a Barnes and Noble 'Discover Great New Writers' selection. National Public Radio chose one of her collections for their Annual Summer Reading List, and she has served as a judge for both the Flannery O'Connor Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her collection, The Odditorium, was one of "Ten Books to Pick Up Now," in the O, The Oprah Magazine's January, 2012 issue, and was an Oprah Winfrey "Book of the Week" selection in January, 2012. A founder of the Sr. Airman Ashton Goodman Fund, benefiting the Afghan Women's Writing Project www.awwproject.org, Melissa teaches creative writing at Arizona State University. Her personal website is www.melissapritchard.com

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy of "Shadow and Betrayal" by Daniel Abraham. A value-priced omnibus of the first two novels of Daniel Abraham’s classic Long Price Quartet—groundbreaking, unique fantasy of rare power and originality

    In this omnibus edition of A Shadow in Summer and A Betrayal in Winter, the aggressively expansionist Galt empire has already conquered lands across a huge continent. But the cities of the Khaiem resist Galt’s power with the andat—creatures of magic with godlike powers.

    Each andat is brought into being by a “poet” who must say the right words and exert the iron will needed to control gods. The industrialized Galt war machine is helpless against the powers of the andat…but political intrigue and deep treachery combine to shift the balance of power in a world of ancient empires and immortal magics.

    One man, Otah Machi, stands at the crossroads of history in these imaginary world fantasies, the fulcrum around which the wheels of epic history rotate through achingly poignant cycles of life and death, love and betrayal. Daniel Abraham won the International Horror Guild Award for his short story “Flat Diane.” He has been short-listed for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. His most recent novel is The Dragon’s Path. He lives in New Mexico

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    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy (personalization available upon request) of "Hell's Bottom, Colorado" by Laura Pritchett. (Publisher's Weekly Summary) Winner of the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, Pritchett's debut is an admirable, steely-eyed collection of stories and vignettes featuring a family of ranchers in mountain-shadowed Colorado. Pritchett, raised a rancher herself, writes beautifully about the hard work and casual cruelty of ranch life. Forest fires, stillborn animals, poverty, cold and violence: all play as significant a role in the shaping of these characters as their emotionally hardscrabble family life. The three family groups that form the collection's core are brought uneasily together by an act of violence: the murder by her own husband, Ray of Rachel, youngest daughter of stubborn matriarch Renny. Some of the finest writing is in the stories about Rachel's children, Billy and Jess: "A Fine White Dust" chillingly illustrates their relationship with Rachel's abusive husband, and in "Dry Roots," one of the most painful and evocative stories, Billy and Jess come upon a horribly mutilated calf the property of a vicious neighbor and must make the decision to end its suffering. Pritchett's emotional revelations are often painted with broad strokes, as when Ben and Anita, estranged brother and sister, agree "that devastation looks pretty damn good from afar." But just as often, the writing is redeemed by fierce tenderness: "The wheat is starting to turn, flashes of deep gold streaking through tall, waving green....I suspect most city-folk... don't realize that wheat grows up green and living and then it dies, and that's when it becomes useful." Fans of Annie Proulx's Close Range: Wyoming Stories and Jon Billman's When We Were Wolves should enjoy this visceral, accomplished collection.

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    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy of "The Dark Gnu and Other Poems" by Wendy Videlock. Personalization is also available upon request. "The Dark Gnu and Other Poems" plays, jokes, teaches, admonishes, yields to the ecstatic, and strays into the shadowy where “If not for the dark, / no / spark.” All of this is heightened by striking full-color illustrations from the author herself. There are stories that come and go in a couple of blinks, and stories that linger and juggle their way from hut to the market, to the fair, on a “swaying dappled mare,” to get to all the good to be had or done. Mother Goose, myth, folklore, chants, lyrics and narratives are well-represented. Like Nevertheless, Videlock’s first collection also from Able Muse Press, The Dark Gnu abounds with fun, quirks, wit, and wisdom, but this time to enchant and enlighten children of all ages.

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    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy of "Ndewo Colorado" by Uche Ogbuji. Personalization is also available upon request. Uche Ogbuji (@uogbuji) born in Calabar, Nigeria, had lived, among other places, in Egypt and England, but never anywhere longer than 3 years in his life until he came to Colorado. Here he was instantly smitten by the mountain landscape and cultural flavor and has now settled near Boulder with his wife and four children. Educated mostly in Nigeria, Uche is a computer engineer and entrepreneur whose abiding passion is poetry.

    Uche's poems, fusing Igbo culture, European Classicism, U.S. Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences, have appeared widely in journals and anthologies. His poems, fusing Igbo culture, European Classicism, U.S. Mountain West setting, and Hip-Hop influences, have appeared widely, most recently in IthacaLit, String Poet, The Raintown Review, Featherlit, Outside In Journal, Don't Just Sit There, Qarrtsiluni, and Leveler. Uche is editor at Kin Poetry Journal and The Nervous breakdown, founder and curator at the @ColoradoPoetry Twitter project. To hear him speak about the title of the book, check out his announcement on his website: http://uche.ogbuji.net/ndewo/

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    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy of "Holding Three Things at Once" by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer. Personalization is also available upon request. This book was a finalist for the 2008 Colorado Book Award. In Holding Three Things at Once, Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer brings her experiences as mother, linguist, orchardist and life lover into poetic practice. Most of us attempt to hold at least three things at once, and this book invites the reader to revel in everyday miracles: ripening apricots, learning to speak a new language, honking geese. These are poems to help us relish paradox and fall more deeply in love with world, even as it changes. Lifelover Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer lives in Southwest Colorado, where she serves as Poet Laureate of San Miguel County and manages a 70-acre organic fruit farm with her husband, Eric. Motivated by love of language, land and life, she earned her master s degree in English Language & Linguistics from University of Wisconsin Madison, and now teaches poetry for Think 360, The Aesthetic Education Institute of Colorado, Ah Haa School for the Arts, and Camp Coca Cola. For ten years she directed the Telluride Writers Guild. She performs live-wire high-jinks poetry with EAR, a performance trio including Ellen Metrick and Art Goodtimes. Her books include Intimate Landscape (Summer 2009), Holding Three Things at Once, Insatiable, If You Listen, and Suitcase of Yeses, an audio CD. As mother to three children, ages 0 to 25, she relies on singing for her sanity and performs with Telluride s seven-woman a cappella group, Heartbeat.

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    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy (personalization available upon request) of "Ghosts of Giant Kudu" by Danny Rosen. "Ghosts of Giant Kudu" captures the turmoil and richness of his surroundings that impacted Danny Rosen's sensibility deeply during five years running an astronomical observatory in the Namib Desert. The poems of Ghosts of Giant Kudu infuse the landscape and music of Africa into Rosen's ultimately American, always quirky collection. Danny Rosen lives in Fruita, Colorado, where he runs Lithic Press. His poems have appeared in Poetry Midwest, San Pedro River Review, Illuminations, Comstock, Pinyon, Salt River Review, Memoir (and), Pilgrimage, the Nervous Breakdown, and elsewhere. His second chapbook, Ghosts of Giant Kudu, was published by Kattywompus in May, 2013.

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    Pledge $50 and receive a signed copy (personalization available upon request) of "Each Month I Sing" by L. Luis Lopez. This book or poetry based on the twelve months of the year. There are twelve poems for each month, the first six having to do with the name of the month, the flower of the month, the gem of the month, the zodiac sign it enters under, a famous writer born that month, and a famous painter born that month. The other six have to do with the author's experiences for that month. Various types of poetry are included in the text.L. Luis Lopez has written three books of poetry: Musings of a Barrio Sack Boy, A Painting of Sand, and Each Month I Sing. He was born on March 15, 1938, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He received his BA from Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama, his MA from St. John’s College, Santa Fe, New Mexico and his Ph.D. from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico. L. Luis Lopez studied at the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Oxford, England. Hehas been granted four National Endowment for the Humanities awards. He taught high school and college since 1963. Tampa, Florida; Albuquerque, New Mexico; St. John’s College summer program for inner city students, The University of New Mexico Honors Program and recently retired from Mesa State College in Grand Junction, Colorado, where he taught English, Mythology, Latin, Ancient Greek, Greek and Roman literature classes, and was Director of the Academic Honors Program. Luis and his wife, Maggie, presently live in Grand Junction, Colorado.

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Funding period

- (10 days)